Stop the presses folks! Somebody in the media just criticized Ryan Gosling for saying “women are better than men.” Finally, one lone woman, a single voice crying out in the wilderness actually says “hold up. I thought feminism was supposed to be about equality?”
If pop feminism had a mascot, it might very well be Ryan Gosling. From the actor’s outspoken comments about respecting women to the ubiquitous “Hey Girl” memes created in his honor, Gosling has graciously taken on the role of feminism’s modern-day poster child. And who better to be the face of female empowerment than a good-looking, rich, white man?
He’s practically the George Francis Train of the 21st century.
Without all of that pesky racism.
Unfortunately, Gosling’s vagina-worshipping brand of feminism doesn’t always, you know, help women. In fact, I would go so far as to argue that his latest remarks actually set women back.
In case you missed the many headlines this week, the Gos sparked a media frenzy when he said the following in an interview with Britain’s ES Magazine.
I think women are better than men. They are stronger, more evolved. You can tell especially when you have daughters and you see their early stages, they are just leaps and bounds beyond boys immediately.
On the surface, these comments seem harmless, if not commendable. And indeed, most media outlets ate them up as “One more reason to love Ryan Gosling,” tee-hee-hee! To many fans, Gosling comes off like a highly evolved male who has simply come to realize what we females have always known: that we’re awesome.
But Gosling didn’t say “awesome.” He said “better”—and given that he has come to be viewed as a feminist spokesperson, that’s where the problem lies.
We live in an age in which “feminism” has become a dirty word, at least for people with vaginas. Female celebrities including Katy Perry, Shailene Woodley, Kelly Clarkson, and Kaley Cuoco have all said they’re reluctant to call themselves feminists because doing so would mean they somehow hate men—which, for the record, they don’t. As Clarkson told the Huffington Post in 2015, “I feel people have associated the word ‘feminist’ with ‘bitch’ and ‘man-hater’ and all these things … And I’m definitely not that girl.” That’s great, Kelly. I don’t hate men, either, but I’m still a feminist.
Take a step back from the conclusion of “I feel people have associated the word ‘feminist’ with ‘bitch’ and ‘man-hater’ and all these things…” and ask the question (or two, if you want to break it out as such): How/Why?
How/Why did “feminist” develop an association with “bitch” and “man-hater.”
Surely it had nothing to do with these will-travelled comments:
I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honourable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.
– Robin Morgan, Ms. Magazine Editor
Only when manhood is dead – and it will perish when ravaged femininity no longer sustains it – only then will we know what it is to be free.”
– Andrea Dworkin, “The Root Cause,” speech, 26 Sept. 1975, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge (published in Our Blood, ch. 9, 1976).
“Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation, and destroy the male sex.”
– Valerie Solanas, SCUM Manifesto
“The male is a domestic animal which, if treated with firmness…can be trained to do most things”
– Jilly Cooper
Rape is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear”
— Susan Brownmiller
“Being a housewife is an illegitimate profession… The choice to serve and be protected and plan towards being a family- maker is a choice that shouldn’t be. The heart of radical feminism is to change that.”
– Vivian Gornick, feminist author, University of Illinois, The Daily Illini, April 25, 1981.
“No women should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Women should not have that choice, because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one”
– Simone de Beauvoir, Saturday Review, June 14, 1975
“Overthrowing capitalism is too small for us. We must overthrow the whole…patriarch!”
– Gloria Steinem
I can keep beating this dead horse but you get the idea. Men didn’t make this stuff up. Men didn’t invent this. Feminists have said all of this, and more. Of course, the typical feminist dodge is this or something akin to it:
Well, I don’t believe that.
Which is just a head-fake at the No True Scotsman (or No True Feminist) Fallacy. The problem is most women, as is true with this author, are nobodies. Don’t get offended when I say you are a nobody. I am an anonymous blog on the internet complaining about stuff i.e., a nobody. I write this blog whenever I get a wild hair up my ass about something. The point of me saying you are a nobody is that you are not Gloria Steinem. You are not Catharine MacKinnon. You are not Germaine Greer, or Andrea Dworkin, or Jodie Foster. You are not taught in the schools, you are not held up in the feminist university covens as an exemplar of feminism. Your writing, how ever profound, is not going to be analyzed as Third or Fourth or Fifth Wave Feminism. As such, you not being like “those feminists” (call them academics, radicals, dominance-theory, whatever the fuck) more likely makes you the exception than the rule.
Indeed, the notion that feminists believe women are superior to men is one of the biggest misconceptions about the movement. Feminism is not about taking power from men—it’s about equality. Still, too many women say they #DontNeedFeminism because they don’t understand what feminism is—that and because they don’t want to be called horrible names on Twitter.
Which makes no sense. I’m not referring to the Twitter stuff because well, it’s Twitter. It has a block function I hear. If there is only 100% of “power” (by power I assume you are referring to policymaking/policy-executing power such as legislators, bureaucrats, etc.) then men, as a class, and for females, as a class, to be “equal,” must surrender 50% of their “power.”
Gosling, meanwhile, can easily associate himself with feminism because, as fellow feminist heartthrob and actor Matt McGorry can surely attest, feminists with penises are showered with praise—while high-profile feminists with vaginas are too busy sorting through death threats.
But I take less issue with our culture’s glorification of male feminists than with Gosling’s actual message. When the Gos says women are “better,” he hurts women by reinforcing our culture’s fear that feminism seeks to overthrow men. For proof of this fear, look no further than the male community on Reddit called r/Mensrights—it’s one of many devoted to the topic—that believes women are out to destroy men and used the Gosling quote to demonstrate how brainwashed and pussy-whipped men these days have become. Oh, and it has more than 100,000 members.
So what do you take issue with? What Gosling said? Or how bad it looks on paper? The Men’s Rights Movement didn’t emerge out of a vacuum. 100,000 didn’t just show up one day and say, “you know what? These females are really doing too well. We need to pump their brakes.” Many MRMs are the casualties of a gynocentric society: Alienated fathers, child support debtors, men financially or emotionally ruined by divorce, bastard sons raised by single mothers who never had the benefit of a man to teach them how to be men, men who saw their own fathers destroyed by marriage/divorce, men currently trapped in the family court labyrinth with no escape in sight.
There are a lot of Men’s Rights visitors who used to have on their rose-tinted glasses when it came to woman qua woman. Then some woman came along, slapped the glasses off of their faces and stepped on them like a playground bully.
Not to mention, while I’m sure many ladies would disagree, I found Gosling’s comments about women more patronizing than empowering. In the ES Magazine interview he also said, “I think [America] needs a woman’s touch,” in explaining why the country should have a female president. And in a previous interview with ABC’s Good Morning America, he described living with his girlfriend, Eva Mendes, and two daughters like some sort of dreamscape:
It’s heaven. It’s like walking through a field of flowers everyday. I live with angels.
Don’t get me wrong, I would much rather have a world full of Goslings than a world full of Michael Bays. And Gosling is by all accounts a very nice guy who loves his wife and daughters. But as a public figure and influencer, there’s a way to express love and respect for women without describing them like magical unicorns. The sentiment that the White House needs a feminine touch implies that a female president would be drastically different than a male one—which is a problem, because that’s the same argument men who don’t want a female president give. Would he have said that Barack Obama can give the White House a “black” touch? I think not.
Ha ha, Michael Bay! Because we hate that guy! Because explosions!
Anyway, leaving off the Obama stuff, the point about being patronizing is interesting because it seems like the 80/20 Rule in full effect: When a man is in the top 20% of attractiveness to women can say or do goofy, corny, hokey things and still get female approval. If the guy who looks like Barney Fife told women they were better, most women would not be swooning. They’d probably call him that preferred female slur “creepy.”
The truth is, by comparing women to angels and flowers and saying we’re better, he’s putting us up on a pedestal that feminists don’t need or want. He’s also reinforcing “benevolent sexism“—a form of sexism that holds women back by perpetuating the idea that men should be chivalrous and women should be worshipped because we’re so pretty and fragile and nice—like dolls. As Scientific American put it: Benevolent sexism is “insidiously dangerous.”
I have to give author her standard-issue golf clap here. She understands the pussy-pedestal concept very well (if she’s been on r/MensRights, she’s seen it before).
The problem is, feminists make an appeal to “benevolent sexism” or emotion, every time they pose the question “What if it was your daughter/mother/sister/granny/whatever?” When it benefits feminists, they will gladly put on their skirts, pick their bras out of the ash-heap, and appeal to powerful men for their protection against “creepy” men, which is how the First-Wave Feminists made any headway to begin with. They appealled to white men for their protection from the rapine hordes of freed, enfranchised former slaves, who would undoubtedly use their newfound right to vote to rape white women.
So what would be a better message for Gosling to deliver? How about that he and Mendes love each other, that they share the housework and child rearing, and that she’s just as strong, intelligent, and capable as he is; that their relationship is a team effort.
As for all the media worship coverage he’s getting as a result of his comments, well, let’s just say I find it off-putting that the moment a hot white dude says women are amazing, every media outlet drools over his sparkly blue eyes and declares him man of the year. Puh-lease.
We need equality, not pandering. To paint broad strokes and say all women are better is bullshit, because women are people and some people are assholes.
I can’t disagree with or critique this part. As I showed in my previous post on this topic, most of the media lined up single-file to each offer praise to Ryan Gosling like the Three Magi presenting gifts to baby Jesus. If the author actually belongs to that endangered species of female known as the Equality Feminist, let me stand up and applaud you for calling out this blatant sexism against men, which is more common than not in the Anglosphere.